Treatment Options for Menopause Symptoms

Treatment Options for Menopause SymptomsMenopause simply refers to a woman’s ending of menstruation. Commonly the term is used to refer to the entire span of time during which ovarian function declines and menstruation stops. Sometime around forty, a woman might notice that her period is different – how long it lasts, how much she bleeds, or how often it happens may not be the same. However with adequate treatment and good personal hygiene, the symptoms most women experience entering and living with menopause can be greatly reduced.In looking at the possible treatment options for managing menopause, it should be noted that there is no doubt that the severity of menopausal symptoms is a physiological phenomenon and is affected only slightly by a woman’s emotional adjustment, satisfaction with her life, anxiety or tranquility over aging or similar concerns. Sometimes, menopause symptoms go away over time without treatment, but there’s no way to know when.Generally, eating a healthy diet and exercising at menopause and beyond are important for a woman to be and feel at her best. Most women do not need any special treatment for menopause. However, some women may have menopause symptoms that need treatment. Several treatments are available. It’s best to discuss treatment options with her doctor in order to get the best possible treatment. It should be noted that there is no one treatment that is good for all women.

General treatment options for Menopause symptoms

Hormone Therapy (HT)

If used properly, hormone therapy (once called hormone replacement therapy or HRT) is one way to deal with the more difficult symptoms of menopause. It’s the only therapy that is approved by the FDA for treating more difficult hot flashes and vaginal dryness. Hormone therapy most commonly involves estrogen, or estrogen combined with progestin, a synthetic form of progesterone.There are many kinds of hormone therapies that can greatly relieve the symptoms of menopause, but no decision about hormone therapy should be made without careful, individual evaluation and discussion with a doctor. This is due to the fact that like with all treatments, hormone therapy has both possible benefits and possible risks.Fewer than half of women who are postmenopausal are on hormone therapy, despite the obvious, even life-prolonging benefits many women could receive from this treatment. However, hormone therapy is not for every woman. Women are complex individuals; personalities and preferences differ, and so do reactions to hormonal intervention. Tailoring the hormonal replacement to one’s individual needs is most important.A woman deciding to use HT should use lowest dose that helps and for the shortest time needed. A check with the doctor is necessary after every six month to see if hormone therapy continuation is still necessary.

Considerations before undertaking Hormone Therapy

Some benefits of hormone therapy include the reduction of hot flashes; treatment of vaginal dryness; slow down of bone loss; and sleep improvement (thus decreasing mood swings). However, for some women, hormone therapy increases the chances of blood clots, heart attack, stroke, breast cancer and gall bladder disease.Specifically, the following group of women should not take hormone therapy for menopause:
  • Women who think they are pregnant;
  • Who are having problems with vaginal bleeding;
  • Have certain kinds of cancer such as breast and uterine cancer;
  • Have certain kinds of cancer such as breast and uterine cancer;
  • Those who have had a stroke or heart attack;
  • Women who have had blood clots; and
  • Who have liver or heart disease.
Hormone therapy could also cause vaginal bleeding, bloating, breast tenderness or swelling, headaches, mood changes and nausea.

Natural Treatments for Menopause

Some women may decide to take herbal or other plant-based products to help relieve hot flashes.

Soy products

Treatment Options for Menopause Symptoms - Soy Milk
Soy contains phytoestrogens (chemicals that are like estrogen). But, there is no proof that soy – or other sources of phytoestrogens – really does make hot flashes better. And the risks of taking soy – mainly soy pills and powders – are not known. The best sources of soy are foods such as tofu, tempeh, soy milk, and soy nuts. These soy products are more likely to work on mild hot flashes.Other sources of phytoestrogens include herbs such as black cohosh, wild yam, dong quai, and valerian root. Again, there is no proof that these herbs (or pills or creams containing these herbs) help with hot flashes.Products that come from plants may sound like they are safe, but there is no proof they really are. There also is no proof that they are better at helping symptoms of menopause. A woman should make sure to discuss these types of products with her doctor before taking them. She should also tell her doctor about other medicines she is taking, since some plant products can be harmful when combined with other drugs.

Exercises

Treatment Options for Menopause Symptoms - Exercise
Regular physical exercise, especially brisk walking (a 15-minute mile) and swimming, helps keep bones and muscles strong. A woman should first talk to her doctor to see what’s best for her. The goal is to exercise regularly so you can lower the risk of serious disease (such as heart disease or diabetes) and maintain a healthy weight.Also, weight-bearing exercise of any kind (including walking) counteracts osteoporosis, and swimming helps arthritis (in assisting flexibility). Exercise maintains muscle tone and cardiovascular capacity, and also gives a sense of general well-being and burns extra calories.

Specific treatment options for menopause symptoms

Hot Flashes

Some women report that eating or drinking hot or spicy foods, alcohol, or caffeine, feeling stressed, or being in a hot place can bring on hot flashes. Try to avoid any triggers that bring on your hot flashes. Dress in layers, and keep a fan in your home or workplace.Regular exercise might also ease hot flashes, but sometimes exercise can cause a hot flash. If hot flashes continue and hormone therapy is not an option, ask your doctor about taking an antidepressant or epilepsy medicine. There is proof that these can relieve hot flashes for some women.

Vaginal Dryness

A water-based, over-the-counter vaginal lubricant (such as KY Jelly) can be helpful if sex is painful. A vaginal moisturizer (also over-the-counter) can provide lubrication and help keep needed moisture in vaginal tissues. Really bad vaginal dryness may need hormone therapy. If vaginal dryness is the only reason for considering hormone therapy, an estrogen product for the vagina is the best choice. Vaginal estrogen products (creams, tablet, and ring) treat only the vagina.

Sleeping Problems

Treatment Options for Menopause Symptoms - Sleep
One of the best ways to get a good night’s sleep is to get at least thirty minutes of physical activity on most days of the week. But, don’t exercise close to bedtime. Also avoid large meals, smoking, and working right before bedtime. Caffeine and alcohol should be avoided after noon. Drinking something warm before bedtime, such as herbal tea (no caffeine) or warm milk might help you to feel sleepy.Keep your bedroom dark, quiet, and cool, and use your bedroom only for sleeping and sex. Avoid napping during the day, and try to go to bed and get up at the same times every day. If you wake during the night and can’t get back to sleep, get up and read until you’re sleepy. Don’t just lie there. If hot flashes are the cause of sleep problems, treating the hot flashes will usually improve sleep.

Mood Swings

Women, who had mood swings (PMS) before their periods, or postpartum depression after giving birth, may have more mood swings around menopause. These are women who are sensitive to hormone changes. Often the mood swings will go away with time.If a woman is using hormone therapy for hot flashes or another menopause symptom, sometimes her mood swings will get better, too. Also, getting enough sleep and staying physically active will help a woman to feel her best. However, mood swings are not the same as depression.

Memory Problems

As people age, their memory is not as good as it once was. Some women say they have “fuzzy thinking” as they reach menopause. This may be caused by changing hormones and can improve over time. Getting enough sleep and keeping physically active can help. If memory problems are really bad, a woman might need to talk to her doctor as this is not caused by menopause.
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